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Time to prepare for next year's ice

Most anglers aren't thinking about ice fishing since warm temperatures have produced historically early ice out dates. However, protecting items during storage like the Vexilar flasher in the lower left corner of the photo will ensure easy access to ice next season. (Jason Durham / For the Enterprise)

With the recent warm temperatures, people aren't necessarily thinking about ice fishing. Oddly enough, you should.

Though nobody will embark on an ice-covered lake again until late next fall, it's time to prepare for ice arrival.

Yes, it might sound strange but preparation for ice will make everything much easier once the summer and fall has passed and the ice once again forms its solid sheath over-top the lakes.

Now is the time to diligently store the essential equipment you'll need for the first ice season excursions. It's time to protect your investments.

Unfortunately, some ice anglers park their gear outdoors, hoping for the best until the ice is thick enough to walk on again.

There are some simple tips for protecting your ice fishing equipment now so you don't face financial burden next fall.

The time is right for some proactive measures. You can't get on the ice right now and we're a few days away from boat traffic. For the fishing fanatics, this is the time to responsibly put gear away.

It's an angler's dream, bridging the gap between seasons and proactively preparing for the not-so-upcoming ice season. Advanced planning means more valuable fishing time.

First off, bring your gear, or as much of it as possible, indoors if able.

Garages, sheds and overhangs are all good. Understand that sunlight will fade and weaken portable shelter material. The same can be said for hoses and housings on ice augers. Reels and rods face the same demise.

Put your Vexilar on the charger and leave it plugged in. The charger will keep the battery at full power, eliminating any issues that could arise due to an exhausted battery source next season.

If your dwelling space requires outdoor storage for ice gear, cover large items with an inexpensive tarp and bungee cords. Ensure the equipment is dry before wrapping it up.

Moisture can cause metal components to decompose, and materials can grow mold.

Air-out portable fish houses for a couple days in the sun and pack them away when they're dry. All equipment should be removed from inside, including ice scoops, fishing rods, lights and leftovers, such as dirt, garbage and sawdust from your empty waxworm containers. .

Protecting items from sunlight and moisture is essential. But combatting rodents is equally important.

Fish houses, augers and ice fishing equipment are susceptible to the repetitive chewing from the tiny jaws of a mouse.

It's surprising how quickly mice can damage gear. It's not only the gnawing that creates issues, mice build nests comprised of numerous materials and pack it all into a tight space. Imagine a fist-full of grass jammed into the head of an ice auger. Yep, it's a mess to remedy.

A couple dryer sheets thrown into the shelter, strategically strung along an auger or placed in the bottom of a bucket stuffed with ice fishing rods will offer rodent respite, not to mention a pleasant scent compared to mothballs.

Come late November, the ice gear will be ready for action!